Paul Chapman’s long-awaited debut in a Werribee Districts jumper has lived up to all of the hype.
The three-time Geelong Cats AFL premiership player, two-time All-Australian, 2009 Norm Smith medallist and 2006 Carji Greaves medallist pulled on the boots for the first time as Tigers player-coach in Saturday’s 55-point mauling of Altona in division 1 of the WRFL.
Chapman went into the game under a cloud after falling ill during the week. But he was fit and raring to go come 2pm on Saturday, when he spent time in the midfield early in the game before slotting two goals in the forward line.
“He started in the midfield, got a couple of early possessions and with such a strong body he really sets the tone,” Tigers captain Matt Dean told Star Weekly.
“If you’re coming up against Paul Chapman, you know you’re going to be up for a tough contest, so I think they targeted him a little bit.
“He got himself into the game and then threw himself up forward and kicked a couple of goals.
“He’s such a strong overhead mark as well as on the ground.”
Dean has worked closely with Chapman since his arrival at the club but even he took a bit of time to comprehend that ‘Chappy’ was playing on the same team.
“You see him on TV for 10 years doing his thing and the next minute he’s got your jumper on and he’s delivering the ball to you,” Dean said.
“It gave the boys a big boost to be able to run out on the ground with Paul. He made everyone a better footballer when he was out there.
“He was doing his role on the field but still making sure he was getting the coaching moves right.”
The final result – 16.11 (107)-7.10 (52) – was the most important to Werribee Districts fans.
They desperately wanted the four premiership points to re-ignite the Tigers’ campaign after they had dropped the previous two games.
They got the reaction they wanted as the Tigers came out roaring from the first bounce to the last.
“It was probably our most complete game of the season,” Dean said. “We were three goals up at three quarter-time and it was a really good platform for us to continue that on for the rest of the game. We were able to do that for all four quarters, which is probably the only time this season we’ve been able to do that.”
“For him to go out and play and be a focal point up forward, someone to kick it in to and create a contest, was pretty handy for us. It takes the pressure off our other captain Brent Morrow, who does a power of work up there.”
Ruckman Bol Kolang was the heartbeat of the Tigers, offering first use of the ball.
Daniel Montalto was dangerous on the wing, while Chris Scudamore performed a nullifying role but also found plenty of the ball himself.
Andrew Panayi snared three goals to remain third on the goalkickers’ list.
Werribee Districts have moved up to third ahead of the short trip to Wyndhamvale on Saturday.